Mount lecture chronicles explorer Paul Rosolie’s voyage into the Amazon rainforest
April 11, 2017

Paul Rosolie, explorer, discussed his amazing Amazon adventures during his recent lecture at Mount Saint Mary College. 


Visiting the Amazon rainforest, said explorer and author Paul Rosolie, “is like stepping into the movie ‘Avatar.’”

During his lecture “Protecting the Wildest Places on Earth” on Monday, April 10 at Mount Saint Mary College, Rosolie revealed incredible tales of wonder, excitement, and destruction in the western Amazon.

In 2006 at the age of 18, Rosolie headed to the Madre de Dios (“Mother of God”) region of Peru, where the Amazon River begins and the cloud forests of the Andes converge with the lowland Amazon rainforest to create the most biodiverse wilderness on the planet. Since then, his work has taken him to Borneo, India, Brazil, Peru, and beyond.

Along the way, he encountered massive snakes, isolated tribes, prowling jaguars, and the rest of the jungle’s fury in the “Wild West of the natural world.”

Rosolie quickly gained a reputation for skipping classes at Ramapo College in New Jersey, but his excuses were one of a kind. He once missed the first two weeks of the semester because he had become the surrogate mother to an orphaned baby anteater, he said.

Giant anteaters in the Amazon have claws bigger than a grizzly bear and can grow to be the size of a jaguar, noted Rosolie.

Since mothers carry baby anteaters around on their backs for the first six months after being born, Rosolie had to hold the orphan all day long. Unsurprisingly, the only way the baby anteater would sleep is if Rosolie held her on his chest.

“It’s like Edward Scissorhands: she wants to love you, but when she comes near you, you bleed,” he explained. “I would be ripped to shreds. My pants would be torn apart.”

When a dog wants to wake up its owner, it might lick the owner’s face. When the baby anteater wanted to wake up Rosolie, she would stick her 10-inch tongue up his nose so far it sometimes came out his mouth.

As he cared for the baby anteater – with no way to contact home – Rosolie’s physical condition started to deteriorate. Finally, weeks late and with a fever of 104, he had to return to the United States for medical care. The experience almost killed him, he said.

“This is the best way I ever missed class,” said the explorer.

But according to Rosolie, the rainforest isn’t as pristine as one might hope. In many places, goldmines poison the land and the people with mercury, logging displaces massive amounts of wildlife, and poorly maintained cars and boats spew oil into the water.

“Half of the wildlife that was on Earth in 1970 is gone,” he warned. “We get a fifth of our fresh water and oxygen from the Amazon system. It’s critically important to preserve it.”

He added, “They’ve been saying ‘save the rainforest’ for a long time, but I’d like this to be the generation that figures that one out.”

The lecture was presented by the Mount’s Kaplan Family Library & Learning Center, the First Year Experience (FYE) Program, the college’s Office of International Programs, and the Division of Education.